FROM DRAPERSTOWN TO DUBAI

Pictured in May 2011, Fran Berry on Hitchens wins from Pat Smullen on Tiddliwinks in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenland Stakes group 3 race of �62,500 at the Abu Dhabi Irish Guineas Festival at the Curragh.'Photo: Adrian Melia
Pictured in May 2011, Fran Berry on Hitchens wins from Pat Smullen on Tiddliwinks in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenland Stakes group 3 race of �62,500 at the Abu Dhabi Irish Guineas Festival at the Curragh.'Photo: Adrian Melia
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THEY may not have won at the Dubai Golden Shaheen race on Saturday, but owners of racehorse Hitchens are happy with the strong performance put in by the seven-year-old gelding.

Hitchens is co-owned by Laurence O’Kane, a chemist and owner of O’Kane’s Chemist in Draperstown. Laurence and business partner Paul Murphy from Omagh bought the horse in 2008 for £40,0000 at the Newmarket sales, the horse has gone to win £400k in prizes.

“I was happy enough, I thought when he came round the corner that he would maybe come first, second or third, I thought he had a chance for third but he just ran out of steam in the last twenty or thirty yards,” Laurence told the MAIL.

“But in that sort of grade of race, that’s fairly good, he did very well. It was a great experience and a great day. It was just a shame that he didn’t finish third because a lot of people at home had placed bets each way on him.”

After the race, jockey for Hitchens, Silvester De Sousa said: “He ran a big race. They went really quick which suits him. I’m pleased with the way he ran.”

It was the horse’s performance at the Group One July Cup race at Newmarket last summer that bagged an entry for the $2m six-furlong race in Dubai, and jetting the team there first-class to spend the week at the richest horse racing event in the world.

Hitchens had been kept in Dubai since the start of the year to acclimatise and performed well in practice runs, but it wasn’t enough on the big day, as he could only make fourth place. Krypton Factor took first place with jockey Kieran Fallon, Rocket Man took second and third was Lucky Nine.

Laurence has owned racehorses for 14 years. He said: “I bought horses in Ireland with no success for several years, and I went to England where I’ve owned horses with different successes, but this one has been the best horse so far.”

The offers have been flooding in and the next race for Hitchens will probably be the Royal Ascot, but offers from America, Hong Kong and Australia are being considered by the owners as well.